Month: July 2017

3D pens?

Who’d a thunk it? Is there really such a thing as a 3D pen? Can you really write in the air? It all sounds very science-fictional. But 40 years ago 3D printers seemed science-fictional, and yet they were invented soon… Read More ›

Whence significant figures?

Significant digits can arise out of less significant data, right? For instance, you probably learned in ninth-grade science that a number rounded to one significant figure can be magically turned into one with three significant figures simply by changing measurement… Read More ›

Chinatown or Mission Hill?

Every year, the rising high-school sophomores at the Crimson Summer Academy take a field trip to a Boston neighborhood as part of their Quantitative Reasoning class. “What,” you may ask, “does a field trip to a neighborhood have to do… Read More ›

Kids today

“What’s the matter with kids today? Why can’t they be like we were, perfect in every way?” OK, that’s satire. But I’ve heard plenty of teachers say, in all seriousness, “Why don’t students read instructions anymore?” Or, in a tone… Read More ›

East Side Story

An oxymoron? East Side Story is a fascinating 1997 documentary about musical comedy from the Soviet bloc from the 1930s, ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s! OK, it does sound like an oxymoron. But it turns out that it isn’t. This German documentary starts… Read More ›

The wrong way to order steak

“Properly” is the answer my friend Meredith always gives when a server asks “How would you like your steak cooked?” Or your pork. Or your salmon. Steak is supposed to be rare. Pork and salmon are supposed to be medium-rare…. Read More ›

4 3 2 1

As soon as I first heard about it, I knew that I had to read Paul Auster’s apparently semi-autobiographical novel 4 3 2 1: not only did the author grow up as a secular Jew from suburban Essex County, New Jersey,… Read More ›

June Academy: Create Your Own Country

For the second week of June Academy, my colleague Mary Fierabend and I co-taught a course called Create Your Own Country. Mostly working in pairs, students imagined and created their own countries, emphasizing one or more themes: maps political structure/government… Read More ›